Charlotte might be a business town, but when it comes to pricing our homes for leasing or renting to DNC staff and conventioneers, we don’t have a clue. At least, that’s a conclusion one might draw chatting with local real estate agents, including Lexie Longstreet. She’s the founder of DNCDigs.com, a new website launched to cash in on next year’s political convention (another site is DNChomes4rent.com, which was included in this WFAE story about DNC housing).
When I caught up with Longstreet, she was lamenting the number of folks who contact her for help putting a price tag on their digs for DNC week – and in some cases, the months leading up to the convention.
“Nobody in Charlotte knows what their rental rate should be,” says Longstreet, who hopes to rent her own 400-square- foot Dilworth garage guest suite (typically $650 per month) for $1,000 a month or $300 per week.
“And I can’t really determine that for people. They have to set their rental rate for themselves- and it’s going to depend on their home. I can’t say ‘Three bed, two baths, two miles from town – that’s $3,000,’” she says. “There’s no formula. I do know that historically from other conventions that people have tended to overprice their houses.”
She adds: “There are some people in uptown asking $3,000 to $4000 for the DNC days. But there are going to be a lot of people coming to Charlotte who will be here for 2 or 3 months in advance – real people working in advance of the convention.”
Calculating a price isn’t so difficult, Longstreet says. “You can figure out what a motel room rate would cost for a comparable room and with a pullout couch, then add for utilities and inconvenience. I mean, it’s not like everybody’s house is set up to have strangers move into it for a week.”
Launched in August, Longstreet says her fledgling site averages 300 to 400 hits per day, with people mostly from New York, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Washington, D.C. spending some five minutes clicking on more than dozen or so listings. The site boasts a simple rate structure: a one-time fee of 35 bucks to post a room, and $100 for a house, apartment or condo. There’s no charge or limit to modifying a listing.
Longstreet admits the number of listings and visitors to the site have been disappointing. “I thought we would have more people signing up.”
But she’s optimistic. “January and February, I think it’ll pick up,” she says.
“People will start to realize how many people are coming to this town, and how few hotel rooms there are. And people coming here don’t realize how far some of these hotels are. People will say `I would rather be renting a place in Dilworth or Plaza-Midwood than rent a hotel room in Mint Hill.”
As for her own digs, Longstreet says: “I’m getting inquiries for dates during the DNC, but I would rather rent it for 2 months. So I’m not going to jump on it for someone who wants it for only four days.”
Coincidentally, as we spoke, a homeowner had signed up: “In Chantilly, a brand new cool-looking house, one year old, 1,800 square feet, great outdoor space, walking distance to bars, outdoor fireplace, three beds and two-and-a-half baths,” Longstreet reports. “They want $5,000 for the week. You know, I think they can get that.”